Ready, Set, Learn program receives innovation award

A child colors with crayons.

May 11, 2018 – The Douglas Education Service District has been honored with an innovation award for its Ready, Set, Learn program designed to help students in pre-K to sixth grade whose behavior disrupts classroom learning.

The Oregon Association of Education Service Districts selected the program as a New Ideas in Education winner. Douglas ESD will be recognized for the award at the OAESD annual banquet May 17 in Redmond.

Pat Sublette, current superintendent of Columbia Gorge ESD and former Douglas ESD assistant superintendent, said the Ready, Set, Learn program grew out of an overwhelming need to support students with behavioral challenges in elementary schools throughout Douglas County. It is now beginning to receive state and national attention.

“Across the county, state and country, the number of under-socialized children has increased dramatically over the last several years,” Sublette said. “In other words, students are arriving at school unable to sit in a group and learn. This is attributed to a variety of causes such as a lack of high-quality early-learning opportunities, high costs of child care and increased screen time.”

Alison Hinson, Douglas ESD’s director of behavioral health services, was key to the program design and implementation, said Sublette, who also worked on the project.  

The purpose of the OAESD New Ideas in Education awards is to recognize innovative ideas, projects or programs, as well as to stimulate a culture of innovation and creativity within each Oregon ESD. Douglas ESD’s award falls under the Significant Practice category due to the Ready, Set, Learn program’s longevity.

Ready, Set, Learn was launched in 2016. Douglas ESD operates the program, which deploys a team of behavior specialists to work with families, students and schools to support children who face conditions that make it difficult to learn and thrive in a classroom environment.

Ready, Set, Learn uses methods known as trauma-informed practices, which address what happens to children who have experienced trauma that increases their chances for depression or other mental illness, chronic diseases and violence. By increasing children’s resilience and coping skills, the educational team seeks to improve their ability to engage and focus on school academics.

Douglas ESD Superintendent Michael Lasher said that even before the Oct. 1, 2015, tragedy at Umpqua Community College, school districts in Douglas County had declared a “mental health crisis.”

“The Ready, Set, Learn program was developed in partnership with the 13 school district superintendents served by the Douglas ESD to partially address that crisis,” he said. “Ready, Set, Learn is focused on meeting the needs not only of the student, but also the family, and school as relates to behavior. Districts continue to use Ready, Set, Learn to meet the most challenging behaviors of some of their youngest students.”

Ready, Set, Learn receives substantial funding from the Ford Family Foundation and has been a partner with districts in developing more supports for children in early childhood and K-12 education.